DLSU Cheerdance: Underdogs aim to replicate surprise win

Devon Wong
The De La Salle University Animo Squad looks for dancers who have a dedication to learn, rather than a dance or gymnastics background

UNDERDOGS ATTACK. The DLSU squad looks to replicate its surprise 2nd place finish win from last season. Devon Wong.

MANILA, Philippines – Not everyone is born a gymnast, but that shouldn’t stop you from being a member of the top cheerdancing teams in the UAAP – at least, that’s what the De La Salle University Animo Squad would have you believe.

The DLSU Animo Squad prides themselves as the underdogs of the UAAP cheerdance competition. With most members auditioning for the team with little to no background in gymnastics or dance, team captains Natasha Mendoza and Paolo Lucero believe anything is possible with the right mentorship.

Lucero joined the team as a first year with no experience in the sport, but a keen sense of interest to learn.

FAITH IN HEART. Co-captain Natasha Mendoza believes her squad's heart can help them win. Devon Wong.

“They said that no experience is required, so I tried it out. And I figured out that I [was] improving,” said Lucero.

Over his four years a member, he’s seen his team and his own skills flourish. From previously unexceptional rankings to their recent unimaginable 2nd place finish in last year’s UAAP Cheerdance competition, the DLSU squad surprised themselves and cheerdance fans with their dark horse victory.

Groomed to win

The team captains recognize the value in picking members based on dedication to learning the skills, rather than previous experience. The rest, they said, can be groomed.

“We have people who started just here… no basics, no background in cheerleading or gymnastics,” Mendoza, co-captain of the Animo Squad, said.

FIGHTING CHANCE. The DLSU Animo Squad vows to "bring the gloves" in the 2012 UAAP Cheerdance competition. Devon Wong.

“We just see whom among the tryouts are really determined to join the squad. If they are hard working, if they attend every training, they get accepted to the squad even if they don’t have the experience,” Lucero added.

Unlike other teams that recruit based on skill level, the DLSU cheerdance captains agree that they make up for experience with their determination to improve.

A fighting chance

At last year’s UAAP cheerdance event, the DLSU Animo Squad was appropriately costumed as archers camouflaged in the forest, as they quite literally crept up on their competition and stole the show.

While more than half of the team has graduated since last year’s competition, the odds don’t seem to faze the more experienced teammates.

(View their promotional video below)

“As far as I can see, they can do the stunts. They can do the skills. And we just have to practice it really hard. And if we show a perfect routine to the crowd, I think that we really have a good chance to place this year,” said Lucero.

This year, the team vows to “bring the gloves.” 

But by the looks of it, the squad is ready to knock out the competition. – Rappler.com

This article is the first of a series of cheerdance stories, as part of Rappler’s coverage of the UAAP Season 75 Cheerdance competition. Rappler will liveblog the UAAP Cheerdance event on Saturday, September 22. 

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.